Everything Update

Everything Update – 4/8/2017

I still exist! It seems like so much is going on, but really, there isn’t much to tell.

Writing: Nope. Nada. Zip. Well, this isn’t technically true. I haven’t done much actual writing, but I’ve done some prep work. I did a mini-workshop that was designed to help with ideas. Actually, I haven’t finished it. There is three days worth of material, and I did day 1 and 2. Then there was a revised day one release, so I backtracked and need to go through it again.

This worked out for me because I despised the story ideas I came up with on the first go-round. Pain has kept me away from my desk, but I plan to work through it this weekend and the beginning of next week.

Last night I had a new idea pop into my drugged mind. First, let me clarify. I do not do street drugs. I’m talking about Tramadol, which is a powerful pain med, but not even a narcotic one (which I can’t take). Still, the adjustment period for Tramadol is long and miserable. I have taken a nap, which I hate, almost every day since I started taking this junk.

The meds make me feel cloudy and flighty and sleepy and nauseated. It hardly seems worth it, but the pain has gotten so bad I am doing it anyway. I’ve taken this medication previously, before my surgery, so I know most of the bad side effects will go away soon. I can only hope my concentration level will be better this time. There is a chance I’ll stop taking it soon, but I’ll explain that in the next section.

So, back to my new idea. It’s not very developed, but my muse must really want me to write it because it was strong enough to come through the drug fog. So I’m sitting on the bed, playing a game on my phone when the story pops into my head. It started with a name and grew into the seed of a character in a couple of minutes.

I don’t know why I did this, because it’s not my norm, but I started thinking out loud at my husband. Just a few brief thoughts, then I asked if it sounded stupid. He’s a smart guy, so of course, he said it didn’t. Then later as things came together more in my head, I said more. As I spoke, the ideas changed and grew and became more clear. Eventually, I jotted down everything I could think of because I don’t trust my memory right now.

This new story is nothing like my regular stuff. It is fantasy, but it’s not serious. Instead, I plan for it to be light and fun. I’m almost positive the two main characters are teenagers, though it’s not YA. It is about two girls, no romance. Though I am leaving room for them to meet people who could catch their romantic interest. It would only be a side story though. They will grow and change so who knows where it will all lead!

It will have a couple of unwise wishes, a witch, characters who get themselves into a lot of messes, and an unexpected ending. Actually, the ending is probably not the end. At this point, I envision a series of longer short stories, maybe even a serial. It depends on how much trouble these girls get themselves into. I like the idea of many adventures along with common issues young people have to deal with but set in an old school fantasy setting.

One of the girls has a name and a few basics, like where her home is and her lifestyle. The other has all that but a name. I haven’t worked out personalities yet, though I have ideas.

I’ll update more as the story develops.

Medical: My body hates me. I’ve been in so much pain I can hardly think straight. Then I started taking big pain meds, which does not help with clarity of thought but does help with the pain. The disk above my fusion is giving me problems.

Scar tissue from the surgery could be one of the reasons it’s hurting so much, as well as it being smushed. The plan is to do an injection that might help relieve some pain. They are adding something that will dissolve some of the scar tissue. I don’t think I will be pain free afterward but if there is any relief I’ll call it a win.

I’m scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. I’m trying not to get my hopes up. Previous injections in the area didn’t do much for me, but everything with this disk is different than the other.

The doctor wanted me to look into implants. One is a low dose, all day drug delivery. That is not happening. Morphine all day? No thank you! I wouldn’t even be myself anymore.

If the procedure helps then I hope to get back to regular writing.

Other Medical: Remember when I said my body hates me? It’s proving it with tea. I am sensitive to salicylates (look it up, it sucks). Tea, which I drink every day, is high in them. My body has decided that I’m done with tea, I think. I’ve been having weird symptoms, and I’ve suspected tea was the culprit for a while. I denied it for quite some time because I didn’t want to face the facts.

Tea has become the enemy, and I love the enemy. Drinking soda would do me less harm than tea. Also, coffee is also high in salicylates. I don’t like coffee, but if it were safe to drink I would develop a taste for it. How on earth am I going to feed my caffeine addiction?

So I guess I’m going to slowly cut out the tea and see what happens. If my symptoms change, then I did the right thing. I will miss it, but I won’t miss what it’s possibly doing to me.

At this point, I hope it is the tea causing the problems. Caffeine headaches won’t be fun but not drinking tea would be an easy fix. If it’s something else, I’ll have to go through the same process with every suspicious food, cosmetic, and hair care product I use.

Reading: Did I mention I’m on Tramadol? During this adjustment period, reading is mostly off the table. I try. I am attempting to reread some books by Mercedes Lackey, but it’s a struggle. I picked her because I like her characters but also I don’t like some of her descriptions. There is something to be learned by studying writing styles you don’t like as well as ones you do.

My issue is the detail she puts into describing clothing. Four paragraphs for each person? UGH! Also, the inner dialog when something trying to solve a problem is excessive. Even with these things, I love her work. The plots are simple but well done. There are some surprises, although the set up sometimes needs work. Her resolutions are satisfying.

Now, if I could only concentrate on what I’m reading! I’ll keep trying. With me getting used to the meds, it will be easier soon.

Everything Else: I’m getting ready for the West Texas Writer’s Academy. It’s two months away but I made my list months ago. I’m slowly gathering things together in a central location. It sounds silly, but this method keeps me from forgetting stuff.

I also have a list going for our yearly vacation. We are driving to New Jersey, so the list is quite a bit different than the one for my class. When I get back from the first trip, half the stuff I take will not be unpacked, which will be nice. It doesn’t matter how long my travel sized lotion and extra glasses, etc. stay in a bag.

My desk needs to be cleaned off, again. I plan to purge my closet and the kitchen soon. Some rearranging might be in order for my workspace. I’m going to irritate my kids with demands for deep cleaning around the house.

I’m trying new recipes. I am the ultimate creature of habit and if I don’t think about it, I’ll make the same five things over and over. It’s time to switch it up.

That’s all for now. I’ll post an update sometime after my procedure.

 

 

Everything Update – 3/21/2017

Writing: My goal is to revise book one of my fantasy trilogy. I’ve worked a bit on it, but my lower back and a cold have kept me from doing much.

I used Grammarly to do a quick HA, not so quick check on grammar and spelling. I learned I have comma issues and I use too many compound sentences! The word ‘but’ is the bane of my writing existence.

When I opened Grammarly, I was shocked to see it found 900 critical issues! I almost fell out of my chair, seriously. As I went through it, I found it wasn’t as bad as I first thought. One issue the program has is it wants you to use more identifiers than I want. It’s a personal preference and not likely to change.

Another problem is sometimes it is flat-out wrong. There were times it wanted me to say ‘she’ or ‘he’ in place of her or him. It was wrong, I was right, and I clicked ignore on those.

I spent more time than I wanted on this and now it’s probably wasted time. There are some plot points I need to expand on, ideas I need to add and a few things I need to cut. My goal is to write the extra scenes, rewrite what I have to, then use Grammarly again.

It doesn’t matter that it’s not a perfect tool. The thing finds more of my mess ups than I do so I’m glad to have it!

As for the changes, there aren’t as many as I feared. There was a subplot I wanted to use in the beginning but chose to leave out. Now, I think the story needs it. I already have the notes and adding it won’t alter too much of what follows. I’ll have to change a few scenes, but mostly it’s adding new ones. It turns out my muse must have known because I inadvertently set it up as I went along.

The hardest part will be changing two character arcs. One of my most important characters is boring. He simply has nothing to do. He needs to be knocked down and dragged for a while. I don’t even know what torture I’ll put him through, but it will be bad.

Another change is the kinship of two of the ensemble. They are brothers, and I think they need to be cousins or half-brothers, or something that will make their relationship more complicated.

I have a character named I’maari who is probably the most interesting of the bunch, but she isn’t the main character. I need to dial her back a bit.

It sounds like I have a lot to do, but it’s not too much. It will be tedious work, and with all my medical issues it will take a long time. I’ll keep at it until I’m done. Then I’ll write book two, I think. There is a chance I won’t want to look at this story again for a while.

There are no plans for what I’ll work on if not book two but I’ll update when I figure it out.

Writer’s Academy: In three months I’ll attend the West Texas Writer’s Academy for the first time. It is a week-long intensive class, basically an expanded continuing education course. The one I chose is on plotting. I despise outlines, and this method uses index cards or sticky notes instead of a classic muse killing outline.

I’ve used the method a couple of times but I think seeing it demonstrated and being able to talk to an expert will help me with some rougher spots. I’m super excited about it. I’ve already made a packing list! Actually I made the list months ago, but that’s how I am.

Anyway, I’m transitioning from the kind of writer who writers by the seat of their pants to one who does at least some planning. I’m discovering as I go along how much I need.

Medical: This is the crappy part of my update. I have visited two doctors in the past week. First was my neurosurgeon. He said I’m still healing extremely slowly. Also, the fusion is not the cause of my pain. It’s disk above. In fact, I’m in more pain than before my surgery. He said to go see the pain management doctor, which I did today.

  1. I can’t say I’m happy with how it went. I have many options and all of them suck.
  2. Another fusion, preceded by another painful discogram.
  3. A neurostimulator implant. This is kind of like a TENS machine but on the inside.
  4. Targeted drug delivery. This is another implant, a drug pump. We’re talking continuous morphine.
  5. Pills.
  6. Injections.

As you can see, none of these options is appealing. Number four is out of the question and I’ll avoid surgery for as long as possible. The other implant might go on my last resort list. For now, unfortunately, they gave me pills. I was put on Tramadol and an injection semi-soon is likely.

The medication will make me sleep most of every day for the next two weeks. I’m starting with a half dose, once a day. I’m supposed to build up to four times a day. If I end up needing that much then I’ll schedule an injection. I cannot express enough how much I hate taking major meds. Tramadol isn’t a narcotic but it works very much like one. I won’t get addicted but I might not really be ‘me’ for quite some time.

So with all that said, I hope I can meet my writing goals!

Everything Else: I’m doing a lot of reading. I started rereading The Green Rider series by Kristin Britain. I didn’t want to read anything new because then I wouldn’t be writing, or new stuff could inject itself into my own writing.

However, with all this pain junk, and the new meds, I might read new to me books. There are several on my list, some of which are not in my normal genre. There are several people in my writing group with published novels and I own them but not read them yet. If my creativity shuts down for a while I’ll start on those. The genres are sci-fi, cozy mysteries, paranormal romance (vampires), and even some fantasy (YA). I think there are eleven novels I purchased (ebooks) sitting there waiting for me.

I’ll post another update as soon as I’m able. I can’t promise they won’t be loopy rambling. Just know, if the commas are in the proper places, it’s thanks to Grammarly!

Everything Update – February 6, 2017

Deaths in the family: My aunt Janice passed away last week, which is why I haven’t been posting, nor writing, much. The night it happened I got the call at 10:41 pm. When you get a call at that time of night, you know something is wrong. Add in I saw my cousin post on Facebook about her mother being in the ER earlier and I knew when my phone went off exactly what I was going to hear.

Still, when my mom said my aunt had died, I sat up quickly (and painfully) and said “What?” I guess I hoped against hope that nothing was wrong. She explained what happened and abruptly got off the phone.

Janice had major surgery a couple of weeks before. Everything was looking good until Sunday night of last week. She got a blood clot in her lungs and there was nothing that could be done.

I was so upset and so shocked I was basically numb. I think I was staring at the ceiling after trying to convince my husband he needed to go to sleep since he worked the next morning when I got a text maybe ten minutes after the call. It was my mom asking me to call my two brothers to let them know.

It was the first time in my life I had to do something like that. Normally my mom did it but this time she needed me. So I made the calls and eventually I fell asleep.

The next morning I called mom and she said her, my grandmother, and my two cousins were going to the funeral home. I invited myself along and met them there. This was also a first for me. I wasn’t involved in the planning, besides speaking up for my cousins when they answered in whispers and I was the only one who heard them. Moral support was all I could offer. My mom had to deal with several other funeral arrangements so she stepped in when needed and eventually it all got done.

Then I picked up lunch for everyone and went to my grandma’s house. Everyone was mostly calm, the shocked calm that can’t last. It was hard but for the next couple of days, I did whatever I could to help. Anything from vacuuming to helping my husband (he’s the muscle, I’m the director) clean out my aunt’s garage to make it easier on her daughters when they have to go through it all.

Sometimes I simply sat on the couch and chatted with my grandma and the other women in my family. We told funny stories about Janice and comforted each other by being together. Seeing everyone’s pain was so hard.

I cried at the gym the day after I found out then at both the graveside and the memorial service, many times but otherwise stayed in my numb calm state. I suppose I was in ‘get it done’ mode.

Friday was hard because I stayed home. I didn’t cry because my husband was also home and I didn’t want to upset him. You see, last Sunday was only the beginning of the bad news for my family. The next day my husband got a call from his dad letting him know his grandmother had passed away. She was such a great lady and we’ll miss her a lot. I feel so useless because I can’t do a thing to help since I’m so far away. I couldn’t even do much to comfort my very stoic husband because I was such a mess waiting to happen.

Her funeral will be in New Jersey and we can’t make it. I wish we could. A family needs to be together in times like this. I’m hoping my brother-in-law can set up Skype for it.

My son also got bad news. A really close friend of his died of cancer. This kid was twenty-two years old! What a sad week.

I’m not sure I’ve processed it all yet. Grief on grief is terrible. My house has been filled with a somber gloom all week. Not to mention one of the kids has the flu and strep so we’re all avoiding each other.

Today, everything is hitting me. Writing this is hard but helping me.

Writing: As for writing, due to the above events, it’s been on the back-burner. Yesterday was the first day I had any creativity come out of me.

My writing group does a weekly picture prompt. When it was posted in our FB group I thought it was amazing but didn’t think for a moment I’d be able to write anything. I was wrong. I started getting ideas within minutes. It was problematic because I had two paths I could take with one character. I’m not sure which to pick so I’m writing both, hopefully today. I’ll decide which I like better, or see if one takes over the other. Maybe I’ll combine them.

Unfortunately, it’s as likely I won’t be able to write a complete story. It doesn’t matter, though. Creativity happened. I’ll ease back into writing but it would be nice if I could lose myself in it.

I have a couple of pieces of flash fiction I need to polish a bit before I post here. Expect those soon, tomorrow or Thursday.

Medical: I’m in a lot of pain but it’s from all my activity last week and I think I’ll be okay soon. I need to schedule an appointment with my neurosurgeon and get a CT scan done next month. Fingers crossed it looks good. I’m worried about the rod and screws in my back. I’ve been in pain for quite a while. During the last visit, there was concern about me healing so slow. The CT scan is to make sure nothing loosened because of it.

After what happened to my aunt, and finding out my grandfather also died the same way after surgery, you can imagine how much I fear another surgery.

Everything else: There isn’t much else. We’re all trying to move forward. I’ll try to post another update late in the week. Hopefully, I’ll not have anything else bad to talk about.

 

 

 

Everything Update – January 23, 2017

Writing: It’s all about flash fiction. I’ve been utilizing word prompts almost every day and I’m happy to report they are working for me. In the last week or so I wrote several super short stories. Some I shared and some I held back. (Click a title if you would like to read the ones I’ve posted: The Smudge, Ashes, The Cycle, & Peaches).

There are two I’m not sure I like. One of them is simply ridiculous and the other is not quite a story, but I still find it interesting. I might put them up together. Another is still only bones but I’ll add the meat to it today before trying to write a new one.

My goal is to write as many short stories this year as I can, at least one a week, preferably more.

I’m completely out of novel mode but I’m okay with it. Burnout was on the horizon and I needed to do something different. Besides, with all these short stories, I might end up with one growing into a book length story.

Reading: I’m still reading The Sword of Truth Series. Book six is…challenging. I don’t like what’s happening. I’m unhappy about the development of one of the main characters and I’m bored with the excessive world building. If I see the words ‘wayward pine’ one more time I might scream. That’s a lie, I’ll probably only groan.

The biggest problem I’m having with this book, and the two before it, is the female main character is becoming unlikable. No matter how many times her husband is proven right, she never agrees with him, never believes he’s making good choices, and always wants to do the exact opposite of what he says they should. There are scenes where she acknowledges that no matter how odd his decisions may be, he’s been in the right every time. Yet she still argues!

It’s driving me nuts. The husband, who is the overall main character, almost always gives in to her wishes, even though he feels he’s right, and he’s the leader of a country. He’ll have a ton of inner dialog about how he just wants her to be happy, but he worries he’s making the wrong decision by giving in. He is. Every time.

How can I like these characters if they don’t learn and grow?

Still, I’m sticking with the series because I am doing this for research. Already I realized I have a character who always feels sorry for himself but doesn’t do anything to fix it. I might not have noticed how extreme this problem is if not for the flaws I found in the characters in these books.

As writers, we should always read and learn something about writing from every book we pick up.

Medical: I went to the pain doctor for a follow-up from my nerve burn procedure. It didn’t really help. Before they could offer I said I had no interest in pain medication. They said in that case, all I can do is wait until March, when I have a CT scan and see the neurosurgeon again. The suspicion is I’m healing very slow from my spinal fusion surgery and/or one of the screws could have loosened. Scary and frustrating stuff.

I still go to the gym almost every day. I’ve upped the intensity on a few things but still don’t push too much. I wish I could workout harder. I’m only keeping steady, not making real progress. I shouldn’t complain. Going to the gym does help with the pain. I just wish I could do more. I’d love to be more fit, toned. I don’t want to get giant muscles, but I would like some definition.

One thing I’ve been negligent about is the home exercises I learned in physical therapy. I’m getting back on track though. I just need to accept that I will be doing this forever.

Everything else: I’m obsessed with Rogue One and The Force Awakens. As of Friday I’m the proud owner of a Jyn Erso Funko Pop figure. She stands in front of my other Funko Pops: old Han Solo and Rey. Behind them is my Pez Death Star tin. Soon I will frame my 8 x 11 prints of C3PO, R2D2, and BB8.

I want to make one wall in my house a nerdy wall. The whole family would be welcome to put whatever franchise stuff they want on it. The only problem is it would soon be covered with Adventure Time and Stephen Universe (which I despise). I’ll have to give in though. It wouldn’t be a family nerd wall if it was only the stuff I like. Maybe I’ll divide it into sections. Once we have stuff up, I’ll take a picture and post it.

We got an old, but new to us car. My ex-husband bought himself a new car and didn’t trade in the old one because he was hoping one of the kids would want it. My oldest has a car and the others don’t drive. Seriously, one is 21 and the other just turned 20 but they don’t drive. My daughter has zero interest. She didn’t even finish driver’s ed. The other is almost interested but it will be a slow learning process.

So, the ex brought the car to me to use until one of them decides to adult. It has its problems. One of the seat belts in the back is broken. The brakes are squishy and need to be fixed. We had to replace brake light bulbs. Toothpaste and elbow grease fixed the foggy looking headlight covers. The outside looks fine, but the inside is torn all to hell. But, a free car is a free car.

My husband’s car is junkyard bound so he’s driving the ‘new’ one for now. The ex said he’d rather it be driven than sit in someone’s driveway. Regardless of the condition, it’s pretty cool. I’ve never been given a car before, so I’m not complaining.

I’ve been organizing. Normally this means I’m making a giant mess while making things better eventually. Not this time. I’m doing it slowly and just skipping to the better part. I reserve the right to still make a mess when I tackle the closet though!

There’s not much else going on. Just life. I’ll update again soon and post a few more stories sometime this week.

 

Everything Update – 12/26/2016

Writing #1 (the bad stuff): Apparently my muse is a Grinch. I’m sitting in my favorite writing spot trying to find some inspiration for flash fiction stories. Nothing came to me at first so I looked at writing prompts. That was when my muse made her true nature clear.

All the prompts in the reader are Christmas related. UGH! I like the holidays and all but I don’t want to write about it. I already wrote a Santa story (click here to read it). I’m ready to move on!

My real problem is a bad case of writer’s funk. It’s different from writer’s block because I can write, but there is nothing I want to write about. I’m not even sure I want to write. I know I should so I keep trying but I only have tiny spurts of creativity. Otherwise, my muse is hiding (and waiting for the holidays to end).

This is not to say I’ll have better luck once all the decorations are taken down and everyone stops blogging about Christmas. This funk won’t simply disappear on a certain date.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to do, what I want to do. My plan for now is to try to write flash fiction. No ideas have hit me so far today but I’ll have some eventually. Or I’ll make them. Ideas are cheap when it comes down to it. I just have to find a way to make some work for me.

What I’m really fighting is apathy, brought on by burnout. I know I’ll get through this but for now it sucks!

Writing #2 (the great stuff): I will be attending the West Texas Writer’s Academy (WTWA) next year. I’ve wanted to go for a long time now and finally it will happen. In October they offered a chance to win a scholarship. I had to write an essay, under 200 words, on why I wanted to write.

The essay was so hard to write! If you’ve ever read anything on my blog, or even just this post, you know I’m wordy. The idea of keeping it so short terrified me. Then came the fear i wasn’t saying anything right. I wrote one and thought it was silly, then changed it. The next attempt was too serious, more changed. Finally I simply started over.

I wrote about the things and people who stopped me from writing for too many years. I spoke about how my experiences, especially the bad ones, made me more determined to write now. I called those years my writing boot camp. Then I said nothing would stop me now and I want to learn everything I can and add to my toolbox as much as possible.

After I wrote it, I edited the hell out of it. I remember at one point I hit undo a bunch of times and in the end, most of this third attempt stayed intact, with only minor changes. I was surprised but shouldn’t have been since it came from the heart. The words poured out with no fears or concerns. I emailed it then sat there and cried and shook, in the middle of Starbucks haha.

My nerves were a wreck! Not once did I think I would win the scholarship but I desperately wanted to. So I spent the rest of the day freaking out then tried not to think about it much. The deadline was December 15 (my birthday) so I had plenty of time to ‘forget’ about it. There was no sense in stressing for almost two straight months.

On my birthday I thought about it for a moment then shut it away. I knew by this point they weren’t announcing the winner until January so I tried not to get worked up.

The on December 20 I got an email. The notification popped up on my screen. It showed a small portion of the email and who it was from. I thought my heart would stop. My hand hovered over the mouse, too afraid to look at it. Logically I knew what it said and why I received it but I was too busy calming my nerves to be logical!

As you’ve probably guessed, I won the scholarship. I read the message at least ten times before I moved. Then I burst into tears! I took a picture of the email and sent it to my husband because for once I didn’t have the words to tell him what happened. I sat there crying for a few minutes then went into the living room and told two of my kids. They didn’t know what to do because I was crying and laughing and trying to explain. They got the explanation but they rarely have seen my cry so didn’t know how to handle it, haha.

When I started talking I was having difficulty. My sixteen year old daughter was staring at me with a look of horror/concern until I said they were good tears. It made me laugh when she visibly relaxed. I must have looked like I was having some kind of breakdown.

They congratulated me and I left the room but I couldn’t sit back down, I was too…something. Excited isn’t quite the right word, though I felt it too. Shocked is a closer description.

My other daughter heard the story shortly afterward, once I realized she was awake. I guess I didn’t say it very quietly because my oldest son heard it at the same time, as I woke him up talking near his door.

Eventually I told the people in my writing group and called my mom. I know I talked so fast she barely understood me!

As I came down from the high of finding out I won, weird things started happening. I wondered if I deserved it. I kept thinking my essay wasn’t good enough for me to be picked. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I tossed those stupid, destructive thoughts out the window! I didn’t just win, I earned it! I wasn’t about to let anyone, not even myself, ruin it.

So next summer I’ll attend a week-long intensive writing class. I know how to write, but like I said earlier, I’m eager to add to my writing tool box. I can’t wait!

Medical: My back hurts, so nothing new. On Friday I’ll have the second procedure I’ve talked about before. A couple of weeks ago they did the right side, now they’ll do the left. There has to be eleven days between the two procedures and my doctor was on vacation for Christmas week. Otherwise I’d already be done. Thankfully this one is happening this year so I don’t have to mess with a deductible.

This won’t be a permanent fix but any relief is welcome at this point. I’m sure this is part of why I’m in my writing funk. Chronic pain drags a person down. It doesn’t matter how sunny your personality is, eventually it all gets to you.

Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon. My mother (and the rest of my family) would laugh at me using the word ‘normal’ to describe myself so maybe I should say I’ll get back to myself again.

Reading: I’m doing this a lot more than I planned on lately. With my back giving me so much trouble, I’ve been forced to spend a good portion of every day lying down, which I hate. So I read in twenty-minute increments then get up.

Also, hot baths help relieve the massive muscles spasms my back gifts me with so I read in the tub too. This I don’t mind at all!

I’m re-reading The Sword of Truth series. It’s not my favorite but I’m enjoying it anyway. It’s so complex, with a million side stories and enough twists and turns to make your head spin. Just how I like it. I feel like I’m learning a lot from how the author writes.

His transitions are really good (so far) and most of the time his descriptions are delightfully sparse. Unlike this blog post, he doesn’t overdo it with adverbs. I’m not sure how I feel about his characterizations but overall I’m glad I chose to read this series again.

I’m afraid to read anything new since I’m already having trouble writing. If this were a new to me series, all I would do is read it. Books are my catnip (I can’t say they are my drug because I hate drugs).

Everything else: Christmas was good. We went to my mom’s house on Christmas eve for lunch. It was nice because there was family there I see only once a year or less. The rest of my extended family I only see a few times a year because I’m a homebody these days.

My husband had to work that day, which sucked. He was off on Christmas day though. It worked out that the kids went off elsewhere at lunch so I spent the whole day just hanging out with the hubby. We did a whole lot of nothing and it was perfect. I needed a nice relaxing day and so did he.

Right before Christmas I saw Rogue One. My review is simple: I loved it.

My youngest daughter (my clone) got me into watching Chuck so I think it will be my new binge. The first day of her vacation from school I sat in the living room for hours watching it with her. My back was killing me but we were both happy.

There’s nor really anything else to tell for now. I’ll post an update again after my procedure. Not that day, as I’ll probably be asleep. Hopefully I’ll have a writing update, or new piece of fiction posted before then!

 

 

Everything Update 12/16/2016

Writing: Sadly, I haven’t written much lately. Only a piece of flash fiction (click here to read it), and a bit of revision. It seems my muse is on Christmas vacation.

I picked up an older story, my Nanowrimo project from last year, and started on revisions. Then I stopped. In all fairness to myself, I’ve been busy, but I’m also reluctant. I don’t know why. Part of me is afraid to step out of creative mode. The problem with this attitude is there is not much in the way of words coming out of me. So I’m already mostly out of creative mode anyway.

It could be my rebellious nature or fear or stupidity but I can’t get into editing/revising even though I feel I should.

There are a few issues, besides the above, stopping me.  One is pain, more on this later. Another is the scariest. Burn out. I have writing fatigue and I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ve considered changing mediums because I still have the urge to be creative. I could do photography, which is unlikely due to the pain issue, or draw. I’m a beginner at both but I like to think I have potential. The problem with doing either of these is I tend to switch off all other creative outlets.

If I’m into sketching then I don’t touch my camera or the computer. If I’m taking photos, no stories come to me and I lose interest in drawing.

The darkest side of this is writing is a business. If I’m not writing then I’m not finishing books to sell. I’m not in it for the money but, like every writer, I need the money to be able to keep writing. The bright side of changing my focus is when I go back to writing I seem to be more creative.

I do need some kind of recharge. I wish I knew exactly how to get it. At this point I’m just guessing.

Another option is to change what I’m writing. This could be a change in genre or a different word count. I’m considering working on only short stories for a while. If I do, I would only write these, novels would have to be put aside completely.

It wouldn’t be a bad thing to write a lot of pieces of flash fiction. The sense of accomplishment from finishing a story completely should not be underestimated. Part of my issue with writing is I sometimes feel I’ll never finish anything.

It’s great to write a complete first draft and I’ve done exactly that with four novels. However, a book isn’t finished on that draft. There are revisions and editing still to come. I wonder if I’ll end up revising all my novels in a group, one after the other. Actually, this is one of my fears. I get into whatever mode and stay there until something jerks me out of it. Financially it would be great. Creatively, it would be devastating.

I’ll decide eventually and get to it. For now, I’m going to continue with this semi-break from writing.

Medical: I had a procedure recently and will have another on December 30. They are burning off nerves and can only work on one side at a time. I’m sore from the needles but I feel a difference. Unfortunately, it makes the pain on the other side seem worse. So I’m kind of better but still miserable haha.

Working out helps a lot so. So did the exercises I learned in physical therapy. I haven’t kept up with them but I’m going to start again today. I’m an idiot for not doing them all along.

I’ll update again after my other procedure. It will take a couple of weeks for me to know how successful it will be though.

Reading: There were many novels I planned to read but I ended up picking up something unexpected. I’m rereading The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I’ve only read it once and I didn’t love it the first time. The reason I’m reading it now is partly research. Book one was the author’s debut novel and it shows. Still, this book is pretty amazing.

It moves a little too fast in the beginning and the words ‘that’ and ‘had’ are everywhere. The sentences are overly long at times and quite frankly there are times I don’t understand how it made it through an editor’s hands in its end form.

Grammar and sentence structure aside, the story is great. It’s hard for me to put it down. I feel I can learn a lot from reading it with a critical eye. The series is long and the writing gets better with each book.

My biggest reason for reading it is description and transitions. He does both in an interesting way. The first book is long and there simply isn’t room for too much description. So in most cases, he keeps it compact and only uses the details needed to give the reader a solid picture.

Transitions are hard. If you’re not careful as a writer, you will bore a reader into putting your book down if you spend too much time on how a character gets from place to place. Unless getting there is important to the plot. So far, Terry Goodkind does this well. I remember he gets a bit lazy in later books but for now I’m happy with what I’m reading.

I want to write transitions like he does. I don’t want to write like him but I do want to see good examples of how other authors tackle things we all struggle with. My real problem is I don’t write enough with transitions. I’m trying to find the happy medium.

So reading right now is as much for writing as it is for pleasure and I’m okay with it.

Everything else: Yesterday was my birthday and my husband said we could do whatever I wanted. I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted so I did the next best thing. I wanted to see Rogue One but I don’t do opening nights. I’ll have to wait until next week. Since I wasn’t willing to be around a crowd but still wanted to go see a movie, I decided to go to Alamo Drafthouse for the first time.

We went to see Moana. It was great. There was more singing than I would have liked and one of the songs was so grating I wanted to cover my ears, but I liked it. They serve food and I got my old standby: chicken strips. The food wasn’t great but was tolerable. I don’t have any interest in ever eating there again but I liked being able to pick my seats.

I might go back but I live practically next door to a better theater so I’ll probably still with it.

We decorated out Christmas tree differently this year. There are some plain ornaments on it but mostly there is non-ornaments all over it. I told my offspring it was time to we made it more fitting for our family.

So now it’s covered in nerdy stuff. There are Pokemon stuffed into the branches. My Star Trek and Doctor Who key chains have become ornaments. There is a Harry Potter luggage tag and a multipass (bonus points to anyone who knows what that is). I even hid the alien from Aliens against the trunk for the kids to find. I bought a BB8 ornament too. Everyone is happy and making plans for buying more franchise ornaments for next year.

There probably won’t be anymore updates until after Christmas but I hope to write some short stories and I’ll post them when finished.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Everything Update

Writing/Nanowrimo: I’m still behind on Nanowrimo. I’ve been in a lot of pain and my writing motivation was nil. My muse is in hiding and my I don’t know how to coax her out. I’m going to try though.

It is unlikely I will win Nanowrimo this year but I’m almost positive I don’t care. What I do care about is not giving up. If I say I’m not going to win and just stop then it’s a problem. If I say I’m so behind I can’t see the end in sight but still try then I win. So I’m going to put as much effort into it as I can.

I realized I’m an idiot last night. Forgetful is probably a better description but whatever. I spend a lot of time lying down. I hate it, every second. If I’m in bed I can’t write. Except I can. I have Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is a dictation program. After reformatting my laptop I never got around to reinstalling it. Which is dumb on my part. I can’t physically write when I’m forced to lay down but I can talk. Hell, I can always talk, unless I’m sleeping and sometimes even then!

I feel silly for not thinking of this earlier. It’s not as easy to ‘write’ this way for me but it’s possible. I’m sure once I get in the habit again things will go well.

I’m not at home at them moment but when I get there I’m going to install the software and start using it. I will have to close my door because I can’t do it in front of anyone else, not even my kids. I’m the type who wouldn’t even order a pizza in front of my husband. (Ordering online is the best thing ever!).

Hopefully it will work out the way I think it will. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. At least I’ll get more story out of my head during a time I haven’t been able to. Even the lessening of the irritation I feel when having to get into bed should help. Maybe my muse will come out and play again.

As for my new Nano project, I’m happy with it so far. Since picking it up I’ve already made major changes but none of them changed the flow of the story in a bad way. It’s still going to end the same way but getting there is much stronger now. I’ll have to replot a bit but I did a sticky note outline so it won’t be hard.

The main change is with a young boy introduced in the beginning of the story. He’s an important character but not the main one. Originally my main character (MC) rescues him and takes him to a nearby garrison. He was going to show back up later and his identity was going to surprise my MC. Now she’s going to keep the boy with her. She still won’t know who he is until late in the story. He’s going to be a handful and this kid is full of it but with good reason.

Protecting him adds a sense of urgency, on top of her hiding from the bad guys. Dealing with him adds some small conflict and the byplay between the boy and a man who joins them later will add more depth.

None of this changes the last act except when the boy does his part, it will mean more to the reader. I’m still developing this character but I decided to do it as I go because I’ve already stalled out too much this month.

I’ll update more about this story as it goes along.

Medical: My pain management doctor is awesome. His PA is not. A while back I went to an appointment and saw the PA. She told me I should get an injection to help with my back pain. If it didn’t give me enough relief then she thought we should burn off the nerve. This would require a nerve block, which is basically a test to make sure they get the right nerves. Then the actually burning if the test worked out.

After first losing my paperwork and lots of confusion and many calls I finally got an appointment for the first injection. Except it didn’t happen. Oh, I did get an injection, but it was the nerve block. The PA basically forgot a step. I’m irritated with her but to be honest it works out for the best. I thought doing the first injection was a waste of time because it was clear I’d eventually have to do the burn procedure.

Because of her mistake I’ll probably be able to get the burning procedures done before the end of the year. They do one side, wait two weeks and do the other. This is good because if it’s done before December 31st, I won’t have a pay a dime. I’ve had so many medical things happen this year that I met my maximum payout. Money things aside, I want the relief now so I’m not complaining about the PA’s dumb move.

However, this could have easily worked against me. So I’ll have to be careful with her and make sure I write everything down and keep on top of everything I’m told and make sure stuff not only gets done, but gets done in the order it should.

Unfortunately the nerve block procedure only lasts a day so I’m still in tons of pain but at least I have hope. The next procedure will actually cause me extra pain for a while, probably a few weeks but I’ve done it before and it’s worth it.

I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

Reading: I am rereading David Eddings. I started with The Belgariad, then read The Mallorian. I moved on to The Elenium and now I’m on the second book of the Tamuli. The first two I mentioned consist of five books each and follow the same characters throughout. The other two are both trilogies set in a different world. I reread this books at least once a year. I shouldn’t be reading so much during Nanowrimo but it’s what I do when I can’t write. I didn’t want to start any new books because I would get too distracted from my own work.

I’ll finish the last trilogy before November is gone so I might pick up one of the companion books to The Belgariad. One of them is very long so hopefully it will get me through the month. There is a new book tempting me but I’ll resist for as long as I can.

Gym: I haven’t gone every day but I do go most days. I’m still trying to find what works for me. There are certain exercises I can’t do and others that I have to be careful with the amount of weight I use. I’m not progressing, as in not increasing the intensity, but I’m staying steady. Maybe after my procedure I’ll be able to work harder.

That’s all for now. I’ll post a Nanowrimo update soon.

 

Everything Update

Writing: As mentioned in a previous update, I finished the first draft of book one of my unnamed trilogy. I’m a bit at loose ends now.

I started planning the novel I plan to write for Nanowrimo but the middle is giving me trouble. I know the beginning and end. I even know a lot of things that need to happen in between but once I made my story board I saw the middle was sparse. At this point I don’t know how to fix it.

On a good note, I did figure out how to introduce some important back story. I have less than two weeks to figure out the rest. This may turn out to be only a partially planned story. I’m going to start writing it on November 1st whether I work out the issues or not. It will be like old times, when I would write by the seat of my pants, but with a bit of a safety net.

Since finishing my novel and getting stalled on planning the next I wrote one piece of flash fiction (click here to read it), and not much else. I have a few ideas for more short stories but haven’t been inspired enough to write them. My brain is too wrapped up on other things.

One of those things is an older story trying to intrude and push my Nanowrimo project to the side. This is no surprise as it happens every year I participate. Last year I started with one story and when I got stuck I switched to a different one. The new novel kept pulling my attention away and once I let it have my focus it poured out of my head quickly. I wrote the entire first draft in 15 days. I did the same thing the year before, and the year before that.

Sometimes I write one and a half novels in November and other times it’s two halves but apparently this is my pattern. I’d like to break the habit but I’d rather write parts of two different stories than get so stalled I can’t write a thing. I do not advise jumping from story to story for most writers.

In other writing news, I plan to go to the West Texas Writer’s Academy in June. I know how to write but I feel like adding to my writer’s toolbox is important. Also, I need to recharge my writing battery. I’ve talked to several people who’ve attended in the past and know this is for me. I can’t wait to be around a bunch of other writer’s who want to learn and share their knowledge. It’s part classes, part networking, part absorbing writer vibes.

The problem is it’s expensive. I’ve started saving but I’m nervous I won’t be able to manage it. There is a small scholarship available and I applied for it. I had to write a short essay about why I want to be a writer. Yesterday I finished it and forced myself to send it. I was a nervous wreck! At first, after attaching the file, I kept my mouse pointer hovered over the send button.

I’m not sure how long I sat there in fear but I finally clicked. That’s when I started shaking. Tears were running down my face and I was freaking out. It was weird! I stamped down the ‘what-if’ questions trying to overwhelm me and stared at the table in front of me so no one would notice. I wasn’t sobbing, it was only nervous tears, which I had never experienced until that moment, but I didn’t want anyone to ask if I was okay. Did I mention this all happened in a coffee shop. I’m so glad I sat in the corner! If I had known I would react this way I would have done it at home.

I told some writer friends what I did and even typing it in a text brought back the anxiety. Telling my husband that night did the same. I’m okay now as I type this, but I’m still a bit nervous about it.

That tiny partial scholarship could make the difference between me going or not. I desperately want to go. I think I need to. I have to pay in January and I’ll do everything I can to make it work. Wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it.

Reading: I’m rereading Harry Potter. I don’t want to get too distracted from my own writing so for the last couple of months I’ve only read books I’ve read before. I tried to only pick ones I’ve read several times.

When I picked up book one I was surprised by the beginning. I love J.K. but the first chapter is awful. Not the story itself, but the writing. Even by book two you can see a huge improvement in her skill level. Noticing this gave me hope. I’ve reread some of my early work and been appalled. Knowing this happens to all writers is encouraging. We all get better. I don’t know if I can ever get J.K. better but I can certainly try.

The other thing I noticed was I haven’t reread these books in a very long time. I probably shouldn’t keep reading but it’s already pulled me in. So I’ll treat it as research.

Coincidentally, the story trying to intrude on my Nanowrimo story is a middle grade tale. Reading at least the first four Harry Potter books really is like doing research since Harry is in the age range of my characters.

Okay, I’m pretty sure I just decided, literally as I wrote the previous paragraph, I’m going to switch projects now for Nanowrimo. Tommie the fairy and her friends really want to me write about them and I will. It will be a lot more fun than the story I had planned. It has a lot of death and impossible choices and betrayal and creatures that kill and eat humans.

Tommie and her friends never eat people! Well, one of her friends would if she was allowed outside the fairy realm, but that’s not important here.

I think I won’t pick up The Prisoner of Azkaban today. Instead, I’ll plot out my new Nano project!

Medical: I’m still waiting to hear from the doctor’s office about insurance approval to do an injection in my back. There is a nerve basically being a little smushed. It’s more complicated than that but my silly word serves. I hope this procedure happens next week. If it works then I’ll be all set for November’s crazy writing schedule.

Everything else: I’m going to search for freezer meals today so I can get some good use out of my slow cooker next month. I’d rather spend two or three days preparing a months worth of meals than cook every day when I’m trying to write 2000 words a day. Plus, meal planning will help me save money towards the academy.

For those of you who read my post about my daughter’s friend, I have an update. The abusive jerk who hit this girl got expelled. I’m not sure if it’s because that is policy when someone is accused or if it’s because one of the times he hit her it happened in an alley that runs along one of the parking lots. If they consider it school property, well they have a no-tolerance policy on violence. He now goes to a school across town, so the girl feels safer. I’m waiting to hear what the police had to say about it.

I’ll post an update on my planning progress soon. Don’t be surprised if I change my mind again.

Everything Update (Mostly A Writing Update)

Writing: I’m in the home stretch! There are only four scenes I absolutely have to write to finish the first draft of book one of my fantasy trilogy, plus any scenes they inspire.

This draft will be very bare bones. It has little in the way of description and setting. I used placeholder words such as forest, tundra, ocean, ship, dragon, etc so I could get the story on paper as quickly as possible.

When I get to the revision stage I’ll add all of the details in. Once upon a time I would put in every detail as I wrote the story and it would take forever to get anything accomplished. I finally learned to trust my muse and just get the important stuff out of my head. I can embellish to my heart’s content later.

I don’t need to describe the type of trees in the forest in the first draft (unless it’s plot relevant, which it’s not in this book). I know what it looks like in my head so it can wait while I write the action. I concentrate on the conflict and dialog in the beginning.

Maybe it’s because I find description tedious. Even when reading a book, I tend to scan over the description of places and buildings. Once I have a mental image I don’t need all the fluff and I refuse to add a lot of fluff to my novels.

There were some exceptions of course. The desert in this story is important, as are the magic creatures who attack my main characters (which will be referred to as MC’s from now on) while they cross it. So they got detailed descriptions. I spent some time on the mother of one of my MC’s because she interested me. I described all my MC’s and one of the bad guys. I haven’t spent much time on the big bad but I will before I finish this draft.

Being this close to the end makes me nervous, and excited, and scared. I have finished first drafts before but this one is different. It’s more important to me than any other. This book, the whole trilogy really, have been in my head and trying to be written for too many years.

It began in 2003, on a plane, on my way to make one of the biggest mistakes of my life. All I started with was a character in a scene who could hear dragons. The story has grown and changed a lot over the years, mostly because I kept putting it to the side. I was discouraged from writing it at times, and afraid to write it at other times.

I picked it back up two years ago and wrote a lot during Nanowrimo but something was wrong with it. I didn’t know how to fix it and it was weighing me down so I decided I would write it when I believed I could and it didn’t matter how long it took or if it never got written.

After that I wrote around 80 short stories and several first drafts of other novels, to varying degrees of completion. Clearly I made the right decision.

Not too long ago I found myself thinking a lot about one of the characters from the trilogy. I don’t know how it happened but something clicked and I knew how to fix the story. I replotted the entire thing. Part of the issue was the order in which certain events happened. Once I did some rearranging, removed things that didn’t work and added some new ideas it all fell into place.

I sat down and started writing it again. Instead of fixing what was already written I just made a new file in Scrivener and got to work. When I got to a scene I wanted to keep I skipped it with the intention of copy and pasting it later. If I reached one that had parts I wanted to save then I rewrote it. I was so scared I would slip into editing mode so I didn’t mess with fixing bits and pieces in the old file.

That brings me to today and my last four scenes. I suspect I’ll write more than that but those four are the only planned ones. My nerves were getting to me so I am writing this post to try to shake it off before getting to the real work.

I don’t know if I’ll finish today but it could happen. I do know I’ll finish this week, which is my true goal. Afterwards I will not start revising it. I need to step away and let it all settle in first.

The best course of action may be to start writing something else. Not book two. Maybe I’ll write some short stuff for a couple of weeks. Nanowrimo is coming up soon so during the last half of October I plan to plan. I don’t know what story I’ll work on. I have several in process I could choose from or I might do something new.

I’d really like to have something plotted out to work on in November. Book two of the trilogy might tell me I’ve picked it to write for the month. It was my original plan after all. Still, I wonder if I need a short break from the story. I don’t want to get bogged down again and end up putting it aside for too long.

I’ll let you all know what I decide and keep everyone updated on any other writing that happens anytime soon.

Medical: I went to the pain doctor today. I’ve been putting it off hoping the pain I’m in is a result of my surgery. What I’m feeling is almost exactly what I felt back when all this trouble started. It’s disk pain and I suspect it’s the disk above the fusion. The neurosurgeon and the pain doctor suspect the same.

The plan is to go in for an MRI whenever my insurance approves it. If the results are what everyone thinks they will be then I’ll have an injection. There is also a possibility of burning off some of the nerves, just like they did with the other disk. I hope it works because the idea of having another surgery is horrifying.

I also recently learned the fusion hasn’t bridged which basically means I’m healing very slowly. There can be all kinds of complications in this situation. So medically it all sucks but there is a smidgen of hope.

On Friday I got a call from the Physical Therapy place. I rolled my eyes so hard I was afraid they heard it! They want me to come in for at least one more visit to talk about how I’m doing and to be officially discharged from their care. They should have done that on my previous visit. I think they did a good job but they were determined to drag my therapy out for as long as they could, months longer than I needed because my insurance authorized so many visits.

I understand they are a business and profit matters but for that last month they were wasting my time and theirs. I had made as much progress as I was going to and the only reason they kept me coming was money. I implied as much and no one disagreed. I’m not mad at them, I’m simply done and it’s unlikely I’ll return to them if I ever need PT again.

Okay, I’ve put off working on my story long enough. I’m going to go eat lunch then try to write 1500 words. Expect a post when I finish the draft as I’ll probably be freaking out!